Skip to main content

"Illegal" release of unused Narmada waters to help North Gujarat rich farmers harms saltpan workers

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government’s failure to develop the Narmada canal network to take irrigation waters to the footsteps of the farmers’ fields in North Gujarat and beyond has begun to harm hundreds of saltpan workers in the Little Rann of Kutch. According to the latest information available from the Rann, the Narmada waters, considered the lifeline of Gujarat, are allowed to flow relentlessly into the Rann’s wide expanses via Banas river without taking into account whom is it may harming. In fact, government officials’ explanation is, in case they do not release the unused waters into the Rann, it might “harm the canal” – hence they have “no other option but to release them.”
According to the information received from the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL), the work for the Kutch branch may have begun but there is no portion where it has been completed. Meanwhile, unused Narmada waters continue flowing, and powerful interests led by local BJP MLA Shankar Chaudhury illegally use the waters for the rich farmers’ advantage in Patan and Banaskantha districts. A senior official revealed, “Uninterrupted flow of Narmada waters is illegally allowed to be released into Banas river. Only 10 per cent of the waters are used. The rest of them go waste. The result is that waters overflow into the Rann of Kutch, harming the saltpan workers.”

The waters are generally being released from a spot which is a little ahead of the place where the Kutch canal branches off from the Narmada main canal in North Gujarat. The branch canal is currently under construction, and it is planned to help farmers of Banaskantha and Patan districts as also those of Kutch district. The total command area of the Kutch branch canal is 1.76 hectares (ha), out of which 63,111 ha is in Banaskantha and Patan districts, while the rest is in the Kutch district – around 1.13 ha. “Without waiting for the canal network to be completed, the local interests ensure that waters are siphoned off from the Kutch branch canal”, the sources said.
The official explanation for failure to use Narmada waters is that “it has to do done” in order to ensure that the canal does not experience a breach. However, the result of such uninterrupted flow towards the Rann via Banas river has led to a situation where many of the saltpan workers have been forced to represent to the local officials that this is harming their livelihood, but to no avail. Their saltpans, which require saline water, available aplenty underground in the Rann, get flooded with sweet water. “They have pleaded to the executive engineer, Narmada office in Chanasma, not to release Narmada waters like this. They have also represented to the local revenue officials about this”, sources said. 
During start of this new season for growing salt after the monsoon, the saltpan workers even collected a sum of Rs 70,000 to repair the kutcha road across the Banas river into the desert. They had hoped that this would ensure regular supply of drinking water, mobile health van, and mobile ration van to them. “But within a week, the Narmada department released water from the sub-canal, and the road and the bridge got washed away”, a local social worker said, adding, “This is harming large areas, including Santalpur, Maliya and Kharaggoda regions of the Little Rann of Kutch.”
Meanwhile, helped by the Agariya Heet Rakshak Manch, which represents the saltpan workers in the area, the saltpan workers are planning to hold a demonstration in front of the mamlatdar’s office in Santalpur against the rampant release of Narmada waters into Banas river, which crosses into the Rann. However, officials believe, things would not improve until the Narmada canal network is completed. As of today, not only the canal network to take waters to the farms but even the branch canal which is proposed to help the farmers of Banaskantha, Patan and Kutch district is incomplete. In fact, the branch canal’s 33 per cent of the mudwork, 25 per cent of the linking and 60 per cent of the concreting remains to be done. Of the total 5.6 lakh ha out of 18 lakh ha completed in the total Narmada comment, work has not even begun in any of the three districts.

Comments

TRENDING

Billion vaccine doses? Devil is in details: 70% haven't got 2nd jab; numbers jacked up

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  India has reached the one billion Covid-19 vaccinations milestone. It is indeed a great news and a big salute to the less paid ordinary health-workers in interiors of India for this feat. The government wants all of India's 944 million adults to get vaccinated this year. Around three-quarters of adults in the country of 1.3 billion people have had one shot and around 30 percent are fully vaccinated, the government says.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

Political consensus? Celebrations, with over 5,000 plus post-vaccine deaths in India

By Rosamma Thomas*  As India fully vaccinated nearly 20% of its population and celebrated the “milestone” of administering one billion (100 crore) Covid-19 vaccine doses, it was time to remember those who died shortly after vaccination . By October 20, 2021 Twitter handle C400T, tracking deaths reported to have occurred after receiving the Covid-19 shot in India, updated the 5,134th death.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Failure of 'trickle down theory' behind India's poor Global Hunger Index rating

By Dr Gian Singh*  On October 14, 2021, two organisations, Concern Worldwide (An Irish aid agency) and WeltHungerHilfe (a German organization that researches the problem of global hunger), jointly published the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2021. These organizations have included 116 countries in the world hunger rankings.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Uttarakhand, Kerala disaster due to policies favouring India's developmental mafia

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Two of India’s most beautiful regions where thousands of people go to watch and feel the wonders of nature are suffering because of the extremely disastrous rains and floods. The pain that the rains brought to Kerala and Uttarakhand is a warning to all of us. It's nature’s warning to us to mend our ways.

March opposes Sabarmati Ashram renovation: 'Mahatmaji had kept open for access to all'

Counterview Desk A Sevagram to Sabarmati march, which began on October 17 from Wardha (Maharashtra) and will end on October 24 in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), has demanded that the Sabarmati Ashram, the government should not impose "the fashion and glitz of a shallow modernity" at the cost of Rs 1,200 crore, in the name of renovating the Ashram founded by Gandhiji.

Religious mobs replicate blasphemy laws, 'threatening' liberty in a free country

Nihangs, Lakhbir Singh By Ajit Singh*   A Dalit man, Lakhbir Singh, was mercilessly beaten up and lynched to death near farmers’ protest site in the State of Haryana allegedly by Nihang Sikhs. It was alleged that he committed blasphemy by desecrating the Holy Book Guru Granth Sahib.